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Feel free to add your own spin on the story. Please keep it civil!
Information icon.svg This debate was created by OneForLogic.

Our purpose[edit]

The stated mission of RationalWiki is to analyze and refute anti-science and other crank ideas. This carries the implication that people who refuse to accept science or think rationally are beyond hope and that we're on a constant damage control mission, just trying to keep the uninitiated from adopting such nonsensical views. I believe it must be possible to recover even the most stubborn of fundamentalists from their ignorance and intolerance. People can change and become better; I've seen it many times. The problem is that, in general, I don't know how to do it. Do any of you?

Are fundamentalists and cranks beyond hope?[edit]

I fear yes. "You can't reason someone out of a position they didn't reason themselves into," and making fun of them just lets them cling to their fantasy that they are Brave Crusaders For TRUTH Oppressed By An Evil World. --Gulik 15:13, 4 December 2008 (EST)

Yes, beyond hope. They corner themselves into a narrow pass where they center all their guns. The smart folks just go over (the old saying of "scaling mountains") the barriers they've created. It's not that their beliefs, in general, are the causes of apathetic discourse towards them, but rather the actions they take to push their belief onto others. It's the difference between some dude in a basement licking asbestos who believes it's good for you, compared to Andy who creates a fake encyclopedia to force his views onto readers and students alike. They deserve to be pitied. AndyToad.gifNorsemanCyser Melomel 19:10, 4 December 2008 (EST)

ISTM that fundamentalists are not beyond hope. Fundamentalists tend to have been brought up in a tradition, and some of them will eventually reject their parents' beliefs, whether due to outside influences or simple rebellion. Cranks, on the other hand, typically come by their beliefs later in life, and already feel that they have rebelled against the status quo. Many of the truly cranky may also be that way due to neurological problems (eg Timecube dude), and you can't debate someone out of being mentally ill or brain damaged. --Martin Arrowsmith 15:26, 4 December 2008 (EST)

This. I was basically going to post exactly what Martin posted. To add, there's also the fact that many of these people identify so completely with their religion. It goes beyond even having been brought up in it. At a certain point, their lives are their religion. Can you imagine someone in that state suddenly being torn out of it? They lose their vast fundie community, they lose their fundie friends...fundies have a way of poisoning the well when they lose a member. So even if you had doubts, would you be brave enough to lose everything? Especially when you've been hardwired to believe that your pastor is the final authority on everything -- that's the misconception a lot of us have; it's not the Bible that's infallible, it's the guy who interprets the Bible for you who's infallible. Authority is so important to these people. They almost can't THINK without having been told what or why they're to think. --Purple George!YossieSpring in Fialta 20:49, 4 December 2008 (EST)

No one is beyond hope. Dum spiro, spero. There are former fundamentalists and former anti-science folks... they're not particularly common, but they do exist. More importantly, many people exist in the spectrum between Dawkins and Hovind, and can be swayed either way by reasoned argument (or emotional appeals, unfortunately).--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 20:50, 4 December 2008 (EST)

Are the leaders of CP beyond hope?[edit]

They're fundamentalist cranks (or doing a remarkably good imitation of them), so what I said above goes for them, too. --Gulik 15:15, 4 December 2008 (EST)

I agree, as I stated above. AndyToad.gifNorsemanCyser Melomel 19:10, 4 December 2008 (EST)

Too broad of a statement; many are within very reasonable hope. Ed Poor has in the past shown amazing facility in wiki areas, for all his flaws, and he's rather reasonable - he's just not very smart. PJR is relentlessly devoted to the truth and is quite intelligent, he just approaches things from fundamentally flawed premises (faith and the Bible). And so on. Sure, there are a few like Ken and Andy who have wrapped up their political beliefs wholesale with their entire ethical system and based their whole ego on the matter, so they can't afford to consider opposing beliefs. But they are the exceptions.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 20:50, 4 December 2008 (EST)

I don't know if I'd describe Ed as "reasonable". But that's me. Being charitable, I'd say he can be reasonable. But when that fails him, he usually resorts to deletablock. --Purple George!YossieSpring in Fialta 20:57, 4 December 2008 (EST)

How can we help these people?[edit]

(If you believe it's possible at all, of course.)

Keep making them look like idiots. Refute their arguments with logic, facts and mockery. It won't change THEIR minds one iota, but it might help bystanders avoid catching their particular brand of t3h st00p1d. --Gulik 15:15, 4 December 2008 (EST)

Prove them wrong with reality, facts, and unbiased proof. Conservapedia, in its very definition, opens itself to refutation, and deserves to be picked apart (as is the very belief system of Andy). The best way to help them is to pwn them in every aspect, passively, respectfully, and while smiling. Even if you're banned, you can still feel good that you did the right thing. :D AndyToad.gifNorsemanCyser Melomel 19:10, 4 December 2008 (EST)

As soon as my ban is up, I'm going back. Continual and relentless reason is the only just way.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 20:50, 4 December 2008 (EST)

Wrong premise[edit]

I can say with something approaching near-certainty that starting out from the premise that "Fundamentalists are stupid. We're not, and thus better people. We're here to help them be less stupid" is probably not going to be very successful. As usual, understanding rather than judgement and Othering is the key - understanding who these people are, what exactly it is that they believe, and why they believe these things. --AKjeldsenCum dissensie 21:18, 4 December 2008 (EST)

A subtlety I consider important: I don't consider a more intelligent person to be "better" than a less intelligent one, and I wouldn't even assert that a more tolerant person is a "better" person without significant equivocation. I consider a person's inherent quality as a human being to be entirely separate from these things and probably impossible to measure. I completely agree that declaring our superiority is certainly not an effective method for convincing them to stop being fundamentalists. I have, on several occasions, stopped to listen to a televised Christian preacher who records video of his "conversations" with students and professors at my university at least one afternoon a week. He's a lightning rod for hot-shot teenage religion-haters who consider "you're dumb and wrong" an effective debate tactic. Naturally, he completely destroys them and probably thoroughly enjoys it. I've often pondered what I would say to him, if I were to bother at all. All I've decided in those ponderings is that any kind of direct attack would be foolish and pointless. OneForLogic 22:50, 4 December 2008 (EST)

More advertising[edit]

Anyone who finds this debate interesting should see a tangent I just started here. OneForLogic 23:02, 4 December 2008 (EST)